By Dr. S. 1. Assaad, Beirut (Lebanon)
He was known as Hamid ad-Din Ahmed b. 'Abd Allah al-Kirmani. His title was Hujjat al- lraqayn (Hujja of the two Iraqs, Iraq and Western Persia). Some Ismaili writers call him Sayyidna Hamid ad-Din al-Kirmani (our Master Hamid ad-Din al-Kirmani).
It is not known, for certain, when he was born nor when he died, but modern scholars suggest that his death occured in about 412/1021. And judging from the quality and quantity of his works it appears that he spent a long life in the fields of learning which suggests that he may have been born during the first half of the 4th/10th century.
His name al-Kirmani indicates that he was a native of the city of Kirman in Persia, but whether he was born there or whether he was a Persian by race is not certain.
The second half of the 4th/10th century witnessed the most serious conflict between the two Caliphates of Islam, the Fatimid and the Abbasid. The Fatimids moved from North Africa conquering Egypt and advancing towards Baghdad. The Abbasids mobilised their powers to defend their Empire. Both sides, however, failed to achieve their aims by means of military force and entered a period of cold war where propaganda was the major weapon.Ali-Kirmani was the Da'i whom the Fatimid Imam chose to infiltrate the Abbasid Caliphate and built, by means of propaganda, a popular ground which would help to establish the Fatimid suzerainty in the Eastern parts of the Muslim Land.
The mission of al-Kirmani was, of course, a secret one and his activities were only known to his Imam and the chief leaders of the Fatimid Da'wa. This explains why, despite the fact that he was the most distinguished Da'i of his time, chroniclers and classical historians of Islam mentioned very little about him.
Al-Kirmani's activities proved successful as during the year of 380/990, his mission was able to gain the support of the 'Uqayti Prince of Musul who was known as al-Musayyib. He openly declared his loyalty to Imam Caliph al-'Aziz and acknowledged the Fatimid Caliphate throughout his Emirate. In the year 391/100 the af-Sabi (a chronicler of the Abbasid court) reports that the 'Uqayti Prince ai-Muqallad (brother and successor of al-Musayyib) was planning to take over power in Baghdad and overthrow the Abbasid Caliph. In 401/1010 Qirwasu son of ai-Muqallad, chief of 'Uqayl tribe and the governor of Musul, Mada'in, Anbar and Kufa acknowledged the Fatimid Caliphate instead of the Abbasid. He read the Khutba in the name of al-Hakim-bi Amr Allah, the Fatimid Imam Caliph and struck his name on coinage and flags throughout his principality. Also in the same year 'Ali al-Asade, chief of the tribe of Banu Asad declared his loyalty to al-Hakim in Hilla and the districts under his rule. Even in Baghdad itself popular support for the Fatimid (Imam) was achieved. The Shia of Iraq, even those of the tweiver group lthna 'Ashariyya) began to look at al-Hakim as their desired Caliph. In 398/1007 and during a quarrel with Sunnis, they shouted slogans for al-Hakim (Ya Hakim Ya Mansur).
Soon the activities of Kirmani were more needed in Cairo the centre of the Fatimid Caliphate where dangerous developments were taking place inside the circles of the Da'wa threatening its fundamental principles. A group of Da'is were preaching that Imam al-Hakim was divine which was contrary to the official line of teaching instructed by Da'i al-Du'at Khatigin and supervised by the Imam himself. al-Kirmani was summoned by al-Hakim to aid Khatigin in an attempt to halt the spread of extremism amongst the Da'is in Egypt. The time of his arrival into Cairo is not known but it appears more likely that it was in about 400/1009. In Egypt Kirmani wrote a number of Risalas in which he explained the fundamental principles of the Ismaili Da'wa and particularly the position of Imama and its relations to divinity. In one of his Risalas known as Mabasim al-Bisharat, he emphasised that al-Hakim like any previous Imam was divinely appointed and guided but not of himself divine. Perhaps the most interesting and important of his Riasalas on this issue is al-Risala al-wa'za (the Message of advice) which he wrote in a reply to Questions put to him by al-Akhram (one of the extremists). It confirms that Kirmani, together with other official leaders, was trying to persuade the Ghulat (extremists) to abandon extremism and rejoin the true teachings of lsmailism.
His campaign, although worked successfully and influenced many Da'is to rejoin the official line of teaching, did not prevent the leaders of the Ghulat from separating themselves from the Da'wa and creating a new sect in Islam which became known as the Druzes.
The fame of Kirmani does not stem only from being the most important
Da'i of his time but also from being one of
the most distinguished philosophers of the lsmaili Da'wa. His philosophy
is well known for its new ideas, logical
discussions and scientific analysis. His knowledge was very wide and
seems to have covered all fields of learning
and currents of thoughts at his time. No wonder he is highly praised
by later Da'is and writers. Da'i ldris for
example speaks of him as the foundation of the Da'wa by whom problems
were solved and difficulties overcome.
Nur-al-Din Ahmad says: "Had the lsmaili Da'wa produced no philosopher
except Kirmani that would have been
enough honour for us." (3).
1. Rahat al-Aql, 2. al-Masabih fi lthbat al-Imama
3. Ma'asim al-Huda wa al-isaba fi Tafdil Ali Ala al-Sahaba
4. Tanbih al-Hadi wa al-Mustahdi
5. al-Aqwal al-Dahabiyya
6. Ma'atim al-Din
8. Fasi al-Khitab
9. A collection of 11 Risalas
10 al-Risala alDurriya.
11. Risalat al-Nazm
12. al-Risala al-Radiya
15. al-Rawda fi al-Azal
18. Mabasim al-Bisharat
21. Khaza'in al-Adilia
24. al-Maqadir wa al-Hada'iq.
25. Taj a]-Uqui
26. Maydan al-Aql
27. Alim al-Din
29. al-Nafdh wa al-lizam
30. lklil al-Nafs
32. al-Majaiis al-baghdadiya wa al-Basriyya
34. al-Ta'wa Lyyia
35. al - Mufawaz
1. See, W. lvanow, Ismaili literature, Tehran, 1963, P. 40 i. M. Ghalib, A'Iam al-lsmailiyya, Beirut, 1964, p. 99.
2. for information on these historical events see: lbn al-Sabi' in Dh ayi Tajarub al-Umam, ed. H.F. Amedros and D. S. Maragolionth, Oxford, 1921 390; lbn al-Jawzi, al-Muntazam. Hyderabad, 1940, Vil, 237, Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil, Cairo, 1301 A.H., Xi, 339. lbn Khallikan, Wafayat al-A'yan, English translation, Paris, 1842, Ill 525; af-Dhahabi, Tarikh al-lslam Ms. B.M. anno, 390; al-Safadi, al-Wafi bi al-Wafayat Ms. B.M. fal, 101-; lbn Tiqhri Bardi, al-Najum alZahira Cairo 1929, IV, 224: at-Nuwayri, Nihayat al-Arab, Ms. Dar al-Kutub, Cairo, fol, 56; al-Ya fi'i, Mirat al-Jinan, Hyderabad, 1337 A.H, ]if 494.
3. See Quatations from 'Uyun al-Akhbar of Da'i ldris and Sharh al-Akbar
of Da'i Nur al-Din in Kitab al-Riyad
of al-Kirmani ed. by A. Tamir, Beirut 1960, p. 16.
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